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Taliban ban WHO and ICRC in Afghanistan

The Taliban have banned the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from operating in Afghanistan, citing “suspicious” activity.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was cited by Reuters as saying on Thursday that the militant group was no longer guaranteeing the security of the workers enlisted with some organizations, including the United Nations health body and the Red Cross.

Mujahid claimed the organizations had stopped complying with their agreements with the militants, while he alleged irregularities during the vaccination processes carried out by them.

“They are acting suspiciously during vaccination campaigns,” he said.

Fighting across Afghanistan has created a “complex situation” and some charitable organizations are not operating in accordance with the situation, the spokesman vaguely explained.

ICRC spokesman Robin Waudo acknowledged the announcement and said they had suspended their activities in the country “due to the withdrawal of security guarantees.”

“Therefore, we are now in the process of contacting the [Taliban] to initiate a bilateral and confidential dialog in view of the statement,” he told AFP.

Jin Ni, a WHO spokeswoman in Afghanistan, told the agency that officials “acknowledge the reports and are working on better understanding the situation.”

The Taliban had banned the ICRC from operating on the Afghan soil last August, but the aid group resumed its activity in October after talks.

Afghanistan is one of the few countries in the world, where easily-preventable polio is on the rise.

The Taliban’s five-year rule over at least three quarters of Afghanistan came to an end following the US-led invasion of the country in 2001. But 18 years on, Washington is still entangled in the war and is now seeking a truce with the militants.

However, the militants have continued to carry out their attacks, especially against Afghan security forces, despite holding several rounds of peace talks with the United States in recent months.

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